Junior: An inter party pact would take see unionists taking seats off nationalism…

Yesterday Owen Polley argued in the Belfast Telegraph that David Cameron’s 18 seat strategy was the right way to go… Now today, Ian Paisley junior argues that it is a viable way for unionists to take seats off nationalism and begin to push back against a tide that’s been rising for the last ten years at least.First the nub of Owen’s point:

Making Northern Ireland more exceptional, rather than less, is not a viable strategy to underpin the Union. The stark truth is that agreed unionist candidates for South Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone would not, in any case, guarantee success in either constituency.

Certainly a unionist pact, struck between two parties which have major differences in policy, would harden nationalist attitudes in the two areas. Unavoidably, the message would be any unionist is better than any nationalist.

Conceivably, Sinn Fein and the SDLP could reach their own understanding. And ultimately, it’s difficult to see how agreed candidates could do anything other than contribute to the overall sum of sectarian bitterness in this country.

Then Junior’s counterpoint:

“Co-operation between the DUP and the UUP allows us the prospect of writing a new positive chapter in unionist history — not merely of taking one seat back, but reclaiming two from nationalists and republicans.

“Think of the major boost it would be to the confidence of the unionist community to see Gildernew turfed out in Fermanagh/South Tyrone and Alasdair McDonnell given his marching orders in South Belfast.”

And, as footnote, it is interesting to see a new voice on Northern Irish politics mainstreamed into the media particularly that’s neither hack nor a salaried politician… That’s both rare and refreshing… Whilst press offices have a legitimate job to do, one of the side effects of investing so much state resources into political parties is their tendency to drown out the voices of the individual citizen…

In fact the DUP press office have been kind enough to send us the full text of Junior’s article:

I

t was interesting to observe the comments of Mr. Polley concerning the demands being placed upon the UUP by the Tories: Mr. Polley says that the entire idea of UCUNF is underpinned by a Tory determination that every single Northern Ireland Westminster seat must be fought: “no ifs, no buts, no maybes”.

Am I the only person who senses a veiled threat in such tones? We all know that the Tories have pumped money in to the UUP over recent times, is Mr. Polley suggesting that such largesse will be cut off if the UUP doesn’t do exactly what they are told by the Tory Party? Were I a life-long UUP member, I know that I would respond very badly to the patronising, condescending attitude displayed by the Tories towards my party.

It is a foolish logic which dictates that keeping Michelle Gildernew and Alasdair McDonnell ensconced in Westminster seats represents a serious pro-Union strategy. How can Northern Ireland sending extra nationalists to Westminster actually strengthen our place inside the Union? Furthermore, by what stream-of-consciousness does Mr. Polley arrive at the conclusion that the Tory Party running in every single seat means that the Union is made more secure? Unionism and the Tory Party are two different things. Indeed, history shows that one (the Tories) has often worked to undermine and weaken the other (the Union).

The DUP recognises that in South Belfast and in Fermanagh and South Tyrone an agreed Unionist candidate stands the best chance of winning. That is why we have re-iterated time and time again our long-standing offer to the UUP: let’s work together – by dividing the seats equally, we can return them to the pro-union family. The DUP stands ready and willing to co-operate with the Ulster Unionist Party. Our offer today, is the same one that we made in 2005. Back then the UUP rejected the offer. Most pro-Union voters hope that Reg Empey will learn from David Trimble’s (now a Tory Peer) mistakes.

I accept that there has been bitterness and acrimony within Unionism in the past, but we cannot allow that to get in the way of advancing the greater good of the Unionist cause. The political knock-about between the two parties will always go on, but this issue is just too important to be messed up. Co-operation needs to start somewhere and what better means of co-operating can there be than working jointly to correct the mistakes of the past and unseat two individuals who want to see Northern Ireland dislodged from the Union? I would urge rank-and-file UUP members to make their voice heard on this issue. I am pleased that already UUP members in South Belfast and UUP MLA Tom Elliot have defied the Tory diktat on this matter.

People often talk about the Unionist community being demoralised. I believe one of the reasons for this is because in Westminster contests for more than a quarter of a century the flow of seats have been towards nationalism: Newry and Armagh fell in 1986, South Down in 1987, Mid Ulster in 1997 and West Tyrone in 2001. Not since 1983 has a Unionist candidate taken a seat back that was previously held by a nationalist or republican incumbent. For 26 years our community has watched on aghast as nationalists profited from division and low Unionist turn out. Co-operation between the DUP and the UUP allows us the prospect of writing a new positive chapter in Unionist history – not merely of taking one seat back, but reclaiming two from nationalists and republicans.

Think of the major boost it would be to the confidence of the Unionist community to see Gildernew turfed out in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and Alasdair McDonnell given his marching orders in South Belfast. That is the prize before us – two-thirds of Northern Ireland’s MPs championing the Union. By working together we can achieve it. As our forefathers said: “United We Stand: Divided We Fall”.

,

  • PaddyReilly

    Anonymous

    As regards CS’s views on your future day job, I should warn that the defeat of Dodds is indeed impossible.

    But the degree of impossibility needs to be specified. As I pointed out, in 2007
    the combined DUP and UUP vote was 11108 + 2498 = 13,606:
    the combined SF and SDLP one was 9094+4080 = 13,174

    So how impossible is it for the SF vote to rise by 2,084 votes to exceed Doddsie’s tally, in view of the fact that Gerry Kelly, a somewhat controversial candidate, is now in Stormont and may not be allowed to stand in both houses?

    Given of course the impossibility of 3 Nationalists in South Belfast and McDonnell getting a seat in Westminster?

    So impossible in this case only means, not viable if attempted using the 2005 electorate and the same candidates.

  • anonymous

    Very true Paddy. It would certainly seem the unionist vote is in terminal decline.

    Comrade Stalin – why would a SF/ SDLP pact be “impossible”?

  • Greenflag

    paddyreilly ,

    Thanks for the clarification . As you say the impossible happens and you may be right with NB . I don’t know how boundary changes have effected East Londonderry but I guess we’ll see in the new year .

    Good analysis btw . I had’nt reckoned that a combination of a growing younger nationalist vote combined with higher ‘unionist’ voter mortality would have such an effect so quickly but then you would probably say its been a developing trend over a decade or more . As we approach the election I’m sure Paddy Power will shorten the odds on a Dodd loss .

    I take it your reference to ‘white flight’ means ‘whites ‘ fleeing from other ‘whites ‘ 😉

    Only in Northern Ireland I’m tempted to say but it’s been a phenomenon elsewhere as well and in recent decades a predominantly Balkan pastime ;(

  • abc123

    Peter Fyfe – “I assume you are against any pact concerning south Belfast then”

    The main priority should be to unseat abstentionist MPs.

    Obviously, the SF vote in some areas would mean that even with pacts, they would still win e.g. West Belfast. But all other possibilities should be examined to remove them from office e.g. West Tyrone, Newry and Armagh, FST and even Mid Ulster. This would need all the parties working together: CUs, SDLP, DUP. But there could be potential gains for all these parties.

    A one-off pact to restore representation to all the people of Northern Ireland.

  • sunder

    @Dave

    oneill, how could a unionist vote for a nationalist party and still be a unionist (or vice versa)? If you see a cat trying to bark it’s only because its owner has wasted a lot of time trying to teach it to bark.

    Strangely enough the only notable and game changing occurrence of this in modern NI election history was indeed unionists voting for a nationalist. Joe Hendron in West Belfast.

  • PaddyReilly

    I don’t know how boundary changes have effected East Londonderry but I guess we’ll see in the new year .

    “The translation into “Community background” was 37.94% Catholic (11th out of 18)” (2001 figures)

    “Under the Boundary Commission’s proposals, East Londonderry is to gain two Derry wards, Banagher and Claudy, from Foyle (basically the rural hinterland of Derry City Council) as a result of Derry’s population growth. This makes the new constituency 2.1% more Catholic, and 2.0% less Protestant, than the old.”

    Ref: Nicholas Whyte: http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/ael.htm

    This does not mean that a Nationalist MP for East L’derry at Westminster is on the cards: but it does mean that a third Nationalist seat at Stormont is now nearly possible.

    As Stormont currently holds 54 Unionist (DUP and UUP) members (i.e. exactly 50%) and 1 Loyalist (PUP), giving them a majority of 1, any movement in this sphere will be of crucial importance, and East L’derry is in fact one of the weakest of the possible loci for change: Strangford, E. Antrim and Upper Bann are much more likely to provide the required extra seats.

  • anonymous

    Greenflag I have to say I agree with this statement entirely and want to know your response – in fact any repartitionists response!:

    “By the way before any Unionists answer they should consider that Unionist support for repartition would perfectly illustrate that “Northern Ireland” is a complete invention, with no historical, cultural, ethnic or geographical justification, and basically at any given time consists of the largest amount of area that Unionists can control, be that 32 counties or 1. “

  • Dave

    “Strangely enough the only notable and game changing occurrence of this in modern NI election history was indeed unionists voting for a nationalist. Joe Hendron in West Belfast.” – sunder

    True, but not to advance nationalism. They voted for Hendron to keep Gerry Adams out. So it was done as a tactical advance for unionism. The dog barked.

  • Anon2

    Greenflag/Anon: “Northern Ireland is a complete invention, with no historical, cultural, ethnic or geographical justification”.

    Perhaps you should study your history a bit more and remind yourself where the Celts came from – pushing out some of the original inhabitants of Ireland – many of whom fled to Scotland. So the Plantation can be looked upon as people returning home.

    There has always been close ties between Ulster and Scotland – and indeed the rest of the British Isles. Ulster has indeed changed size over the centuries, something common to many countries.

  • Drumlins Rock

    One factor that could help unionist out is growing apathy among young nationalists, remember in the Euros the most recent polls, although granted they are the least useful, the unionist percentage actually went up slightly, yes it was a very low poll effected by expenses, but that should have actually lead to greater unionist apathy and an increased nationalsit vote. Sinn Fein are starting to appear as part of the establishment and that means they lose the “protest” vote often associated with young people. The tory link might start to change things too, you dont change a nationalist into a unionist overnight, but if the pack is extended to assembly elections then more second third and forth votes will start to cross the divide, this could go both ways if the SDLP became more Labour than Nationalsits.

  • picador

    Paddy R,

    Note that due to boundary changes unionists might regain seats lost in 2007 – e.g Lagan Valley, South Antrim, North Antrim.

  • PaddyReilly

    Note that due to boundary changes unionists might regain seats lost in 2007 – e.g Lagan Valley, South Antrim, North Antrim.

    I have noted this already. I’ve been into the figures for North Antrim, and the change is not drastic enough to eliminate the lead that the SDLP had over the last Unionist at the last count last time round.

    South Antrim is losing some of Glengormley I believe, but is gaining Nationalist Crumlin from Lagan Valley.

    Lagan Valley is losing a whole load of SF voters, but there will still be one Nationalist quota in the constituency. But the deployment of this quota depends on SF being eliminated before the SDLP, because the SDLP attracts transfers from many sides, while SF is transfer repellant. So in this case alone there is a serious risk of a loss of seat, but it’s really up to tactics.

  • anonymous

    People who aren’t from the area don’t seem to realise Glengormely area is where David Ford gets most of his votes and with that going to N.Belfast, where is he going to stand in 2011? Indeed his office is now in N.Belfast!

  • SB UUP member

    Owen Polly has replied to Ian Jr article in todays Tele.
    ‘Playing full role in politics will strenghten Union’
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/playing-full-role-in-politics-will-strenghten-union-14595410.html

    I have this reply to say to naïve little middle englander Owen Polly whose knowledge of NI Politics is less than David Cameron minus zero. The Conservative’s may be the largest Unionist party in the UK, but Conservatives NI are nobody here and have not been so for the past 20 years. In fact they have no MLA’s and no local councillors except for a few recent deflectors like Ian Parsey from alliance. It therefore makes more political sense for the UUP to make an election pact with the largest Unionist party in NI in SB and FST namely the DUP who have 35 MLA’s and hundreds of councillors. For the UUP to ignore the DUP’s offer will be total folly at the coming Westminster 2010 election. If SB and FST are returned to Nationalists, and Lady Hermon has to go Independent in ND because she refuses to take the Conservative whip. The David Cameron will distance himself from Sir Reg Empey leader of the UUP. What good will a Unionist party help ‘Playing full role in politics to strenghten the Union’ if they have no seats in Westminster ?

    On a final note Ian Paisley Jr is only trying to jump on Wee Jeffery’s back as he already has been on Hearts & Minds with Tom Elliot FST last week on this issue. Ian Jr has been cold shouldered by the leader of the DUP and he is trying reclaim political ground by writing to the newspapers over this issue. My advise to Ian Jr is leave SB and FST alone and concentrate on NA. Both him and his aging dad will have a fight on their hands to keep the NA seat from being stolen by Jim Allister TUV at the 2010 election.

  • picador

    Paddy,

    Crumlin is already in South Antrim. I suspect you were thinking of Glenavy which is considerably smaller.

    NI Elections shows Butler’s Lagan Valley seat as pretty much a lost cause.

    What was gap between O’Loan and the last unionist in North Antrim the last time out?

  • Comrade Stalin

    oneill,

    Thankyou for that.

    Paddy,

    I don’t think it’s appropriate to project Assembly election results onto Westminster. The electorate here seem to understand STV quite well and they know that they can take more of a “risk” with their vote, especially as Cobain has quite a good local following. If it’s an FPTP scenario and Dodds runs a “only I can keep out Gerry Kelly” campaign, expect most of those UUP votes to switch over to the DUP like they clearly did in the last Westminster election (turnout differences notwithstanding).

    The spanner in the works that I did not consider, of course, would be the TUV standing in N Belfast. I suspect they won’t, due to the possibility that a couple of thousand votes creamed off Dodds could well do as “anonymous” suggested – albeit due to unionist splits, not a long term unionist decline.

    anonymous:

    Comrade Stalin – why would a SF/ SDLP pact be “impossible”?

    Because the SDLP and SF hate each other’s guts. That’s why there has never been one in the past and why there will not be one now.

    SB UUP member,

    Ian Paisley Jnr is a spent force in North Antrim, and in general terms. This little campaign of his is part of his effort to restore himself after the damage done over the Sweeney business, and possibly the fact in general that he’s just not popular, lacking the charisma and following of his father.

  • Dewi

    One (almost) certainty is a nationalist Assembly gain in Strangford. 31 votes behind on final stage last time and boundary changes helpful.

  • PaddyReilly

    Picador

    LAGAN VALLEY

    The idea that Butler’s seat is a lost cause is based on religious data, Whyte showing that the current constituency is approx 20.62% Catholic, but the new one will be 6.4% less Catholic. But this still leaves 14.22% Catholics in the area, and with a full quota at 14.28%, I would guess that there is still room for one Nationalist seat in the constituency. However, that Nationalist could not be Butler: it would have to be an SDLP candidate. Alternatively, the vote could then by transfer proceed to a second non-Unionist candidate, Alliance or Green. The final effect on the content of Stormont would be the same: no increase in the Unionist vote.

    NORTH ANTRIM

    In North Antrim, according to Nicholas Whyte, the new constituency is 2.7% less Catholic. 2.7% of the vote in 2007 was 1,196 votes. In 2007, O’Loan (SDLP) finished with 6,498 votes to Nelson’s (DUP) 4,091.

    Comrade

    NORTH BELFAST

    Fred Cobain got 2,154 votes when squeezed by Dodds in the 2005 General Election and 2,498 under proportional representation in 2007. It seems that all Dodds gets by crying “Only I can stop Kelly” is an extra 350 votes. Maybe he also got the 360 votes that went to UKUP, who didn’t stand in 2005.

    So to say that a SF win is impossible is a bit of an exaggeration. It may not happen, but for SF’s vote to go up by a couple of thousand would hardly be unusual. It seems more likely though that the Unionist vote is coming down, due perhaps to elderly Unionists dying off or moving out to Carrickfergus.

    Dewi

    Do you have that data on the number of young Catholics coming on the electoral register in North Belfast that you mentioned once? The census data, by constituency, and broken down into age groups?

  • anonymous

    Comrade Stalin

    “Because the SDLP and SF hate each other’s guts. That’s why there has never been one in the past and why there will not be one now.”

    What makes you think that?

  • Dewi

    Paddy – I’m not at home – I’ll send on Monday.

  • PaddyReilly

    Dewi.
    Diolch yn fawr.

  • picador

    Paddy,

    Whyte has some projections (not sure how he works them out) that show SF vote at 7.2% and SDLP vote at 4% in Lagan Valley so combined nationalist vote would be around 3% short of a quota.

    On the figures supplied Declan O’Loan’s seat in North Antrim would appear to be safe but I wouldn’t be too sure about Thomas Burns’s seat in South Antrim. It looks very vulnerable when boundary changes are taken into consideration.

    South Belfast is another constituency where unionism could regain a seat.

  • PaddyReilly

    SOUTH ANTRIM

    According to Nicholas Whyte, new constituency is 2.3% less Catholic.

    2.3% of the vote is 878 votes

    In 2007 Thomas Burns (SDLP) finished with 5395 votes to Mel Lucas’s (DUP) 4228.

    In this case, as in North Antrim, the SDLP would be well advised not to run a second candidate.

    I’m not sure if Nicholas Whyte has got this one right, he makes no mention of the Glenavy transfer.

    Funny thing is he says the Glengormley transfer makes South Antrim 2.3% less Catholic, but only makes North Belfast 0.2% more Catholic.

  • Dewi

    “Funny thing is he says the Glengormley transfer makes South Antrim 2.3% less Catholic, but only makes North Belfast 0.2% more Catholic.”

    Hmmm – the maths depends on where yor start from. The transfers from Foyle to East Derry make both seats more Catholic which takes a while to grasp (the average of the wards transferred is less than the Foyle average but more than the East Derry Average)
    The wards transferred from South Antrim would be much aover average there but only just over average for Belfast North…..

  • Greenflag

    anonymous ,

    ‘Greenflag I have to say I agree with this statement entirely and want to know your response – in fact any repartitionists response!:

    “By the way before any Unionists answer they should consider that Unionist support for repartition would perfectly illustrate that “Northern Ireland” is a complete invention, with no historical, cultural, ethnic or geographical justification, and basically at any given time consists of the largest amount of area that Unionists can control, be that 32 counties or 1.’

    My response would be I don’t agree . It’s not a matter of counties –it’s a matter of people and their perceived identity as part of the UK as opposed to the other half of the NI population’s identity as Irish . Just as I believe Unionists made a mistake in the first partition by including too many Irish nationalists in the 6 county NI in 1920 so too would it be a mistake for the Republic to ‘force’ or ‘outbreed ‘ 900,000 unionists into a 32 county Republic . No point –not ever . Thus a fair repartition saves face all around.

    anonymous 2,

    ”Perhaps you should study your history a bit more and remind yourself where the Celts came from – pushing out some of the original inhabitants of Ireland – many of whom fled to Scotland’

    So you are into mythology –fair enough . The ‘scientists and anthropologists tell us that the vast majority of people in Britain and Ireland (including Ulster) owe their origins to the people who lived on these islands since the last Ice Age …
    All subsequent invasions be they Celt, Anglo Saxon, Norman or anything else left their imprint on culture and language but the islands population remained basically the same .

    ‘So the Plantation can be looked upon as people returning home.’

    It can also be looked at as the people never leaving home but trying to move away from related but aggressive neighbours .

    ‘ There has always been close ties between Ulster and Scotland – and indeed the rest of the British Isles.’

    I did’nt say there was’nt . There have also been close ties between all of Ireland and Britain . So what ? Change happens and times move on .

    ‘Ulster has indeed changed size over the centuries, something common to many countries.’

    Indeed and it will change in the future at least in a political sense and demographically most likely given differential birth and death rates –immigration and emigration .

    My concern anyway is not with ancient history or genealogy or mythology or religion but with the development of a ‘stable ‘ and permanent democracy on this island . What I’m saying is that the current Northern state is not permanent , and will continue it’s longer term pattern of inherent instability simply because the current border no longer reflects not that it ever did , except even less so now the political and cultural realities on the island.

    That’s all and I don’t see any need to lose a drop of blood over the issue . A fair ‘repartition’ implemented by a neutral international agency such as the UN or EU sooner rather than later is preferable to another half century or more of ‘uncertainty’.

  • Jim

    Again correct me if i’m wrong but the boundary changes are relevant from 2001 census. Nearly a decade of demographic change to add to these figures in NB and East L/Derry. Good to see you back Paddy.

  • anonymous

    Greenflag

    No no no!

    GFA and everything Nationalists have bought into is because we accept we will have the 6 join with the South when we are in the majority. For ANYONE to start adding caveats on about YET ANOTHER GERRYMANDERED STATE being created is disgusting. It won’t happen! I certainly would be on the streets. And good luck to the UN (as if!!) in West Belfast , Ardoyne etc. Those people were told all along, when the majority decided it’s time for Unity, it’s time.

    See how the majority now get what they want: all 6 counties in the UK? Well when the minority become the majority we want all 6 into the Republic. And sooner rather than later we’ll get what we want…

  • Greenflag

    anon,

    ‘when we are in the majority.’

    Carry on breeding then and by the time you are 130 you’ll have your majority as long as you can persuade Mna h-Eirinn to do their ‘duty’ However I hear Mna na h-Eirinn (the women of Ireland ) have other preoccupations these days than rearing 10 kids on social welfare to see most of them having to emigrate to somewhere else .

    ‘See how the majority now get what they want: all 6 counties in the UK?’

    Yes ‘unfair ‘ isn’t it but there you go, another good reason for a fair ‘repartition’ so that the present ‘majority’ don’t get all what they want either eh ?

    We have enough problems on our plate in the Republic right now without having to have them augmented by 900,000 alienated and cantankerous shower of whiners 😉 It’ll be bad enough having to cater for the other cantankerous 750,000 approx following a fair repartition .

  • Anon2

    Greenflag – “The scientists and anthropologists tell us that the vast majority of people in Britain and Ireland .. owe their origins to the people who lived on these islands since the last Ice Age …
    All subsequent invasions be they Celt, Anglo Saxon, Norman or anything else left their imprint on culture and language but the islands population remained basically the same.”

    That doesn’t mean that the Celts didn’t push out some of the original people of Ulster to Scotland i.e. within the British Isles.

    It’s interesting that you think your ancestors were probably some of the original people of the British Isles and that you have just adopted a foreign language and culture!